THE AL GILKES COLUMN – Not one flying fish site
The first time I saw fish flying, flying fish, I felt like I had been transported to another dimension: that in which English writer G.K. Chesterton must have been as he penned his famous poem The Donkey, whose words are still embedded in the walls of my memory, decades after having to learn them by heart during my short pants school days.
If you are hearing about The Donkey for the first time, it starts as follows:
When fishes flew and forests walked/And figs grew upon thorn/Some moment when the moon was blood/Then surely I was born.
I had previously seen trees walk, not in real time, but in reel time while sitting in a darkened cinema. I remember one such scary movie titled From Hell It Came in which a man on a South Seas island is wrongly accused of and executed for murder. He had vowed revenge. He does so by returning from the grave in the form of a killer tree.
On the fishing flying side, I grew up with a father who owned a fishing boat or two and hardly an evening in the season passed without our share of the day’s catch being delivered to trigger a ritual of scaling, boning and cooking flying fish in every way possible.
Yet it was not until I was a man, and found myself sailing one day on the high seas with Barbados disappearing in the distance, that for me was one of the most amazing sights I had ever beheld. Suddenly from beneath the surface of the dark blue water spewed dozens of fish with wings extended like birds gliding on currents of wind.
They remained airborne for a while before falling back to the water and diving below the surface, only to reappear moments later in another spectacular display of fish flying, flying fish.
Ever since then I have yearned to see fish flying, flying fish again, other than like in the sea of gravy around the island of Maria’s Saturday cou cou. And since that first experience I did have that desire fulfilled a few times, including while enjoying one of those Sunday sunset cruises MV Harbour Master once offered.
Barbados is known the world over as the Land Of The Flying Fish. This is reflected in the Barbados Tourism Authority’s flying fish logo. This all creates a concern for me and I will explain.
Once when I was down near the tip of South America in the Falkland Islands, I was taken on a tourist trip to see and be with their best known and unique lifeform. And to this day my most cherished photos include one of me sitting on a frozen rock overlooking a chilly, churning sea with a bunch of warmly friendly penguins for company.
Similarly, in Trinidad I have been taken with other visitors to see the late afternoon sky turn scarlet with the flight of that country’s equally as famous scarlet ibis birds.
In Dominica, where whale sightings are a daily occurrence, I was able to pay a fee and board one of a number of boats that take locals and visitors out to see these giants play.
So, how come within Barbados, renowned as the Land Of The Flying Fish, there is nobody offering Bajan or visitor the opportunity to go out to see fish flying, flying fish as a major attraction?
Al Gilkes is head of a public relations firm.